Saturday, March 16, 2013
Claude and I never really went on dates before we were married. Something about the 7,000 mile commute from Arizona to Australia got the better of us. We did go to a fancy(ish) restaurant once. That was to talk about getting engaged (on the trip where we didn't think we would get engaged). That was nice - a bit awkward but a lovely restaurant and obviously a productive conversation.
Once we were married we weren't really in a financial situation to think of going out to eat or to a movie for a date. So we did the next best thing. We walked through the grocery store aisles together. Those were actually rough times in life, but we both have fond memories of those grocery store dates.
Then came the invention of the car date. That started on our first wedding anniversary when we actually planned a picnic at the beach. And then it rained. Sounds a lot like our wedding day...minus the beach and add some very gracious wedding party attendants and guests. We enjoyed our picnic lunch in the confines of a borrowed sedan on that first car picnic. We had fun and eventually made it outside (with an umbrella) to take some photos on the dock.
The car date served us well as we had children, too. After the first anniversary date, most of our dates were chaperoned. And when the chaperone is sleeping quietly in the back seat you really don't want to disturb him. So, you have more picnics in the car. We've eaten sticks of lunchmeat, blocks of cheese, potato chips, and greasy, messy gyros in our car over the years. It's been fun - and apparently very unhealthy!
Then we discovered the joys of couch dates. These dates usually involved some ice cream and have been ditched in recent months as we weren't enjoying the effects of so much ice cream. But we still have couch-like dates each evening as we putter around the house cleaning up and preparing for the next day. It's fun to hang out, chat, and laugh about the events of the day.
Today we enjoyed our first unchaperoned date in a while. I think Claude had hoped to have an actual date (like seeing alligators at the nearby state park) but in the end we decided to head over to Ikea for some bookshelves. We've done Ikea with three kids 3 years and under. It was looooong (7 hours...at least) and draining and involved renting and returning a U-Haul van. Better to have an Ikea date then repeat that episode from our life.
And the whole reason I'm writing this post is that our bookshelf buying date started with a car picnic in the Ikea parking lot. We even improved on our very first car picnic by opening the doors and windows and using the empty space in the van (we removed the seats to accommodate the shelves) as our picnic area. It was fun and with a beautiful day like today we really couldn't have improved on our Ikea run.
It strikes me how simple building relationship can be. All we need is the willingness to prioritize spending time together and opportunities to "do life" with one another. I think I had more fun eating hamburgers and onion rings in the back of our empty mini-van than I did sitting in a fancy restaurant trying to talk about engagement and marriage. Of course, it helps that the 7,000 mile gap has shortened considerably since then. And our friendship has grown for over 7 years now with a lot of shared life experiences to draw us closer together.
I hope that in another 7 years and then another 7 more we're still having fun together whether we're eating burgers in the car, chaperoned by yet another infant, or sitting on the couch enjoying a near-midnight snack.
So, what are your favorite date destinations/activities?